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Thread: Bajogracia

  1. #1

    Default Bajogracia

    I waited until Monday to take a trip to Ometepe so that I could dodge the complications connected to the “vote for Daniel” day. Most people had the day off (feriado), and I noticed in MaxiPali that there was a tarp and a sign over the alcohol saying that the sell or consumption of alcohol was prohibited. I guess Daniel decided to make Nicaragua a dry country for a couple of days. This was probably smart. So many people not working with nothing to do…they’d be unpredictably dangerous will free flowing alcohol. This is why I don’t take my walks on weekends.

    I walked down to the bus terminal in the Mercado in Rivas at 6:20am to see if I could hop a bus to San Jorge. They told me that the bus wouldn’t leave until 7:00am, and so I decided to head out on foot. I still have no idea how much it costs to take the bus to San Jorge. I’ve only ever walked it.

    At 6:50am, the bus passed me on the road to San Jorge, so it must have left the Mercado around 6:40am. Once again, the people in the bus terminal in Rivas have proven unreliable. I think that most of these people are intentionally sewing misinformation about the buses to try to get people to pay (way too much) to ride in their taxis. There are always 10 or so taxis parked next to the terminal, and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anyone take one.

    One of them offered to take me to San Jorge for $3 (or C$87). This is absurd. I could go to Managua and back for this. I took a taxi from Jinotepe to Nandaime (much farther) for C$20. I try to ignore them, but they are thick in the terminal—like flies on a carcass.

    I made it to San Jorge around 7:25am, and I bought a fare for C$50 for a ferry leaving at 7:45am. I could have waited until 9:00am to take a ferry for C$35. I thought about it, but I was being pestered by flies (literal ones this time).

    I got to Moyogalpa (the port city on the western side of the big volcano) at around 8:40am. I spent my time sitting inside dozing off while listening to the local news. A guy told me that I had to wear a life jacket. I rolled my eyes, but I put it on. It is torn open on one side and the layers of this foam are hanging out. There is no way that it’d hold together in the water.

    A cute girl from Spain approached me on behalf of Hostal Ibesa #2. She took me down the beach north of the port to a hotel. On the way, she told me about some natural hot springs called Ojo de Agua. She told me that she was going that afternoon with a couple from Germany that were also staying at Ibesa #2. When we got there, she introduced me to the woman who worked at reception (who was hanging laundry when we walked up).

    I asked her how much it costs for a private room as well as a shared room (dormitory). The girl from Spain told me that everyplace charges about $15/night for a private room on the island, and the receptionist confirmed that price. I think that she quoted me $6/night for a bed in a dormitory. I asked about renting for an entire month, and she told me that she’d have to talk to her boss to find out if she would offer a price reduction.

    So far, my fears about rent prices being higher on Ometepe were being confirmed. I spent the next couple of hours walking around the interior of Moyogalpa and then down the highway almost to the airport checking the places on the outskirts of the city. Each place I asked gave me different number—both for how much they charge per night and how much they’d charge per month, and many of them directed me to different places that might work better for me.

    Most private rooms run between $8 and $20 night. The price fluctuates based on several factors. The first is if the room has a private bathroom with a shower attached. If it doesn’t, the rent is on the low end, if it does, it’s hard to find a private room for less than $15. The second is swankiness of the establishment. I found some nicer rooms for less money is less swanky hostel/hospedajes. So, they tend to charge you more for access to shaded sitting areas with seats and hammocks and tourist maps on the walls. The third is the location. The most expensive rooms tended to be in places right on the water or in the center of Moyogalpa.

    When I asked how much they’d lower their price if I rented a room for an entire month, I got a wide range of answers. One place (Hostal Central) offered to go as low as $340/month. This was the most that I was quoted. Most places at least went as low as $10/night (or $300 a month). Many places went as low as $8/night (or $240 a month).

    I found a hostel fairly near the port and near the water that offered me a private room with a shared bath for $150/month (Hostal Ally) and a private for $240/month. The little old woman working at Ally made it clear to me that these prices were for me alone, and that if I tried to bring anyone else in, that the price would be doubled for that night. She told me that she has had problems with tourists bringing girls into their rooms, so she felt the need to clarify that the price is by person not by room.

    At this point my fears about the cost of living in Ometepe were still on target. However, I kept at it, and I found a place in Moyogalpa that offered to rent to me for C$100/night (or about $3.45). This is better than the $120/month that I’m paying right now for my place in Rivas. Granted, the room in Moyogalpa doesn’t have a private bath, and it’s much smaller, but it has everything that a single writer like myself could want—WiFi, a bed, a fan, access to a shower and toilet, a lock to my room and another to the street with the freedom to come and go whenever I want, a lavandero so that I can do my laundry, and even a place to hang my clothes to dry. This is by far the best deal that I found in Moyogalpa.

    Most places don’t offer dormitories, and when they do, they don’t offer lockers or their lockers are too small for most luggage. They charge between $5.50--$8 a night for dormitories.

    Everywhere has WiFi. I was surprised to discover this to be the case. I guess that they are so used to catering to tourists that they feel as if WiFi is a basic necessity (like electricity or running water). In most places, they have the router (or multiple routers) setup so that the WiFi can be used from the rooms, but in some places you have to be in the public area to get a good signal.

    Many places have water towers, so the water must go out regularly. Also, I found a place with solar backup and another with generator backup for when the power goes out, so this also must happen regularly on Ometepe.

    There is a Pali in Moyogalpa, and at least for many things, the prices are the same as on the mainland. I bought a C$22 900ml Eskimo chocolate milk there—which is the same thing I get (pretty much every day) in Rivas for the same price.

    Most places do charge more for food in Moyogalpa; it’s true. I had trouble finding anyplace that offered a meal for less than C$70, and most wanted at least C$100.

    After I finished exploring Moyogalpa, I decided to walk down the highway towards Altagracia. I had just missed the bus, so I knew that It’d be another half an hour to an hour before the next one came along.

    I walked out to the airport and then kept on going. I took some nice pictures along the way. I hopped on the bus as soon as it came along (right before getting to a small town that I don’t know the name of). I was charged C$16 from there to Altagracia. I noticed that it took us a long time to go south and then east around the bottom of the large volcano before we turned back north towards Altagracia. Once we turned north, we seemed to arrive very quickly. This made me want to try walking to other way around.

    My first stop in Altagracia was a hotel where I had stayed with my younger brother Kim many years ago. It was much the same as it was when I was last there. As much as things may be changing (because of tourists mostly) in Moyogalpa, this seemed to have remained the same in Altagracia.

    I was offered a private room with a private bath with WiFi and a nice common area all for the same that I’m paying in Rivas—just $120/month. Plus, it’s a nice looking room. I was surprised at the much lower price in Altagracia, especially since some of the people in Moyogalpa had told me that they thought prices were higher in Altagracia.

    The man who owns/works in the hotel in Altagracia told me that a little over a year ago that they stopped running ferries from Granada to Altagracia or from Altagracia to el Rio San Juan. Now, the only way to get down to Rio Ran Juan from Ometepe is to take a small prop plane for a little over $50. The buses from Managua that wrap (ever so slowly) around the outside of the lake are still running.

    He told me that stopping those ferry routes hit the economy in Altagracia hard—especially the parts (like his hotel) that ran on tourism. Most of the tourists stay in Moyogalpa or go to remote hotels around the southern volcano instead of looking for places in Altagracia.

    That explains both the great deal that I found as well as the relatively unchanged look of the town. I have no idea why the canceled the routes and effectively shut down the port in Altagracia. It has made Altagracia one of the most remote parts of Ometepe.

    While in Altagracia, I found a place in that central park that sold me a lunch for C$50. This is the standard fair of rice, beans, meat, and salad. I remember paying C$50 for the same thing the last time I was on the island years ago and also years before that with my brother Kim.

    I shared a table with a man named Achilles. I told him that he had a strong name, and he told me that his parents were weird, and that he’s the only guy on the island with that name. He told me that if I stayed for long on the island that I’d find the non-touristy places that are special gems. I specifically mentioned a virgin beach near Altagracia.

    After lunch, I wander east past the catholic cathedral until I found a remote stretch of vine covered wall in from of a plantain field. I took a piss, and then I walked back through Altagracia to the central park. I asked around at a few other places, and I found varying prices even in Altagracia. One place offered me a room for $150/month—but they’d throw in all of the filtered water I wanted during the month, and they’d provide hot water (for Raman soups or boiling eggs or the like). Another place wanted $240/month (Moyogalpa prices), but the room and the place was really swanky—the kind of place where they’d charge $25/night in Moyogalpa.

    I asked about the cost of a bidon of water, and I was quoted C$75 in two different places. I go through about a 3 bidones a month, so it’d still make more sense for me to take the $120/month place. My personal water had run out after using it to chase down my lunch, so I spent C$25 of 2 liters. I walked up the highway. I say “up,” because it is uphill from Altagracia all of the way until the southernmost point of the highway, because it angels up the side of the volcano a bit.

    I came across the road the leads to the southern volcano before too long. I saw a sign saying that the hot springs (Ojo de Agua) is only 1.7km from there, and the beach (Playa Santo Domingo) is only 4km from there—easily within walking distance from Altagracia.

    Not long after I passed that road, the bus came along and I hopped on. They charged me C$15 from there back to Moyoglapa. The cute woman from Spain was on the bus along with the German couple. They must have been at the springs while I was exploring Altagracia and walking way too much.

    The bus pulled off the highway and drove down to the small dock called San Jose on our way to Moyogalpa. A good number of people got up and started getting ready to leave, until they found out that the boat at the dock wouldn’t be leaving that day. They all sat back down, so I remained standing all of the way into Moyogalpa. There, I walked around to take some photos (since I had been too distracted researching where to stay earlier).

    Then, I walked to the port and bought a ticket back to San Jorge for C$50 leaving at 4:45pm. There was a long line in the sun to buy my ticket, and then I didn’t get onto the ferry until all of the seats inside and all of the seats on the top level were taken.

    I leaned against the raining in the shade until the ferry moved away from the dock. Then, it angled so that the sun hit me directly. I ended up sitting Indian style in the middle of the floor of the top deck in the middle of 20 or so young tourist women from varying countries. I recognized French from some of them and German from others.

    Four of the women had identical lime green T-shirts with an image on the front that I couldn’t identify. This nagged at me for much of the trip. Finally, before we got to San Jorge, I asked one of the women what the image was. She told me that the four of them were best friends from Holland, and that they called themselves “The Rockets.” She explained that popsicles are called “Rockets” in Holland, and I said, “Oh right—Rocket Pops.” She told me that the image was of a rocket pop melting into a puddle. I thanked her for telling me, as not knowing would have bothered me for a long time. The only question I have now is…why do she and her friends call themselves “Rocket Pops?

    Back in San Jorge, I decided (once again) to walk to Rivas. Since we didn’t get to San Jorge until 5:30pm, and the sun was already setting at that time, this was a mistake. The road between Rivas and San Jorge has some poorly lit and open expanses that would be ideal for a mugging, and it definitely does not feel safe at night.

    My poor decision was compounded by that date. I was walking back in the dark from a Sandanista victory celebration in the center of San Jorge, and vagos around every corner. The more extreme Sandanistas seemed to be feeling their oats in the wake of their guaranteed victory. I should have foreseen that.
    I walked quickly and didn’t stop when some of the vagos called out to me or walked out behind me. They cursed at me, but they didn’t chase me. I’ve noticed that it takes some time for most vagos to wind up the courage or the focus required to attack someone, and so if a person just keeps moving along at a quick pace, most of the time you’re out of sight and out of mind before they can get it together.

    I made it to the highway around 6:10pm in pitch black. I decided to go back to my room instead of lingering. Even in the more well-lit highway in Rivas, the street had a more menacing feel than usual. I figured that I’d let the revelers burn themselves out that night and that things would go back to normal the next day.

    When I got to my room, I showered immediately and discovered rashes around my ankles with tiny insect bites, a bad sunburn, and a massive blister on my right foot. I may have overdone it.

    In summary, I learned that if a person is willing to put in the leg work, then Ometepe is no more expense (or at least not by very much) than living anywhere else in Nicaragua. When I went, I was trying to figure out if it were even an option for me to stay on Ometepe. Now, I know that it’s very doable. If I want to spend a month or more there, then I can.

    I have photos, but it takes so long to post them, that I’ve decided to wait to post them until I have WiFi in my room.

    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Philly - León
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    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Solid information. Good to know. Thanks.

    I'm amazed at how much ground you covered in a day.
    See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil: be a wise simian

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Haven't been to Ometepe yet but want to. Great update with the prices.

  4. #4
    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    near Esteli
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    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Ometepe is for sissies. i wanna go to Isla Zapatera.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

    Covid was an intelligence test and we flunked.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Had to look that one up. Does look like it would be fun. Big park area with lots of old statues.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Here are my favorite photos from this fact finding trip to Ometepe:
    Soy el chele mono.

  7. #7
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Pompano Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Bajogracia

    My favorite is the horse tied to the Sandinista tree.....nice pics!
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    My favorite is the horse tied to the Sandinista tree.....nice pics!
    The photo that tickles me the most is the one of the entrance to Altagracia with the Daniel Ortega banner. It reads, "Victorious campaign, for life!" I get a kick out of that for two reasons. The first is that Altagracia has taken a serious economic hit under the current administration. The second is the not so subtle "for life!" part of the banner. They aren't even trying to hide that fact that he has made himself a king.
    Soy el chele mono.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    I love the piggy sleeping in the sun, and the steps up the outside of a building under a beautiful tree. Both active volcanoes?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Quote Originally Posted by songbird27 View Post
    I love the piggy sleeping in the sun, and the steps up the outside of a building under a beautiful tree. Both active volcanoes?
    The larger and more northern one is active, the other isn't. There's a lagoon up there--or so they tell me.
    Soy el chele mono.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    The photo that tickles me the most is the one of the entrance to Altagracia with the Daniel Ortega banner. It reads, "Victorious campaign, for life!" I get a kick out of that for two reasons. The first is that Altagracia has taken a serious economic hit under the current administration. The second is the not so subtle "for life!" part of the banner. They aren't even trying to hide that fact that he has made himself a king.
    The sign says DE LA VIDA, and not POR vida, so i think the sign is saying the victories OF life, and not insinuating that he has won and will win for the rest of his life. Although i am no expert in Spanish, so i have been known to be wrong about Spanish sayings on many occasions.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Bajogracia

    Quote Originally Posted by vinyljunkie77003 View Post
    The sign says DE LA VIDA, and not POR vida, so i think the sign is saying the victories OF life, and not insinuating that he has won and will win for the rest of his life. Although i am no expert in Spanish, so i have been known to be wrong about Spanish sayings on many occasions.
    The full direct translation would be "Victorious Candidate of the Life."

    This didn't make any sense to me--unless they are incredibly sophisticated and are personifying the essence of life itself and are then saying that this life force endorses Ortega as the victorious candidate. I suppose this is possible, but it seemed like a stretch to me.

    Alternatively, I thought that if they used "de la" which most often translates as "of the" in lieu of "por," then it would make more sense and would read, "Victorious Candidate for Life." I have heard some Nicaraguan use "de la" in common usage to mean "por" in the past. I know it's not the King's Spanish, but it seemed like a more likely translation in context to me.

    I may be wrong.
    Soy el chele mono.


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